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Top IDP Rookies for 2024

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Tue, 04 Jun 2024 . 6:16 AM EDT

Who Should You Target? Who's Missing?

This year’s rookie class isn’t awesome on defense. That might be your most important takeaway from this particular article.

The NFL said so by selecting a record 14 straight offensive players to open the draft.

And once the defensive guys did start going, the early group included a bunch of CBs and DTs – low-impact positions for most IDP leagues.

Does that mean you should just sit out this class of IDP rookies? No … especially if you need edge help.

 

IDP Rookies to Draft

These rankings are based on our default IDP scoring settings:

  • Solo tackle = 1 point
  • Assist = 0.5
  • Sack = 3
  • Pass Defensed = 1
  • INT = 3
  • Forced fumble = 2
  • Fumble recovery = 2

Odds are your format is different, and so your rankings probably will be as well. They should be. 

That’s why we design our rankings systems around projections. And it’s why we make sure your Draft War Room custom fits your league.

My top 12 here hits on players who can apply to a wide swath of leagues. So pay more attention to who’s here and less to their exact order.

Also note the 3D Value+ rating on each player (0-100 scale) to get a sense of his overall dynasty value.

TIP

Check out our full IDP rookie rankings.

Javon Bullard, S, Green Bay Packers

3D+ Value (based on 1-QB formats): 23.3

Not gonna lie: I’m not taking Bullard as the first IDP off the board. It’s just too easy a position at which to find answers.

So why leave him at the top of this list? A couple reasons …

  1. I don’t care about cheating our system just to get Bullard behind some other positions. I gave him a 2024 projection that’s probably conservative (69th among DBs in our basic site rankings). Our historical aging curves and projection algorithm did the rest.
  2. His ranking highlights the weakness of not only the DB group, but the defensive class overall. I alluded to this already, and it’ll probably get clearer as we move through these ranks.

Why Bullard Projects Well

Bullard showed positional versatility and range across two starting seasons at Georgia. He totaled 4 INTs and made 10% of his career solo tackles for losses.

He can play in the box, in the slot, and in deep coverage. Bullard looks like a strong candidate to start next to S Xavier McKinney, with 2023 seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson shaping up as primary competition. The coaching staff has already started praising the rookie’s versatility.

Early production vs. an especially unexciting safety class would boost Bullard’s value for the short and long term. The next DB in our rookie rankings at the moment is Cooper DeJean, at 18th overall.

Bottom Line

Bullard should be the first DB off the board in your rookie draft, wherever that makes sense for your team and your format.


 

Jared Verse, Edge, Los Angeles Rams

3D+ Value: 20.2

Here’s what I don’t like about Verse: Despite checking in at just 254 pounds (at nearly 6’4), he posted a 32nd-percentile 3-cone drill at the Scouting Combine.

He did the drill despite most of his classmates skipping it. And then Verse sat on the result rather than trying to redo it at Florida State’s pro day.

That says he knows he can't do it better.

A slow time in that drill is a red flag for a pass rusher’s agility around the edge, and that lines up with scouting reports on Verse.

He’s viewed as a strong run defender and good power rusher with limited moves. So why like him?

Why Verse Projects Well

First of all, Verse’s run defense makes him look like a good bet for full-time duty right away. Even the other top edge options in his class aren’t locks for that.

More importantly, though, Verse produced well throughout college. He opened with 10 tackles for loss over just four games in a COVID-abbreviated redshirt freshman season. Verse followed with 11.5 more TFLs, 9.5 sacks, and 53 total tackles while winning conference defensive player of the year.

He then moved to Florida State and racked up another 29.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks over the past two years.

Verse tied for fifth among all FBS edge players in total pressures last year, according to Pro Football Focus, despite ranking just 50th in pass-rushing opportunities.

Reason for Hesitation?

That 3-cone issue still keeps me from being totally comfy with this ranking. Check out the previous Round 1 Edge/DE picks who ran 7.30 or slower in the 3-cone at the Combine:

Player Year 3-cone career sacks
Bjoern Werner 2013 7.30 6.5
Datone Jones 2013 7.32 10
Bradley Chubb 2018 7.37 39.5
Dante Fowler20157.4045
Charles Harris20177.4716.5
Takk McKinley20177.4820
Greg Rousseau20217.5017
DeForest Buckner20167.5161

Jones and Buckner were more 3-4 DE or even interior types. The rest … well, Chubb has looked good when healthy, including two seasons of 11+ sacks. Rousseau has flashed through three years but is still proving himself. The others have been busts.

Successes from the later rounds have included some guys who made plays in the backfield but didn’t stack up sacks. But there have also been standout sackers such as:

  • Matthew Judon (7.67 seconds)
  • Demarcus Lawrence (7.46)
  • Za’Darius Smith (7.42)
  • Olivier Vernon (7.39)
  • Yannick Ngakoue (7.35)

Bottom Line

I’ll take a shot on the college production, strong testing in other categories, good draft capital, and immediate opportunity. Verse doesn't have the highest sack ceiling in this edge group, but he might be the safest fantasy bet overall.


 

Top Rookie LBs: Junior Colson and Edgerrin Cooper

Colson’s 3D+ Value: 17.7
Cooper’s 3D+ Value: 17.1

These guys belong close together, in either order. And that ordering might depend on your approach.

If you set your Draft War Room to “Win Now” mode, then you’ll probably see Cooper ahead. He leads Colson in both 2024 projection and 3-year projection. Colson pulls ahead in the 5- and 10-year categories.

Colson's a year younger, but that shouldn’t matter a whole lot. And both are set up for quick impact.

What to Like About Colson

The Michigan alum landed with his college HC and DC, meaning he already knows the defense. Jim Harbaugh said that showed in Colson’s first round of practices with the Chargers.

“He’s literally making all of the calls,” Harbaugh said about OTAs. “He’s making all the linebacker calls. He’s making the DB calls right now.”

Harbaugh added that Colson “probably” won’t wear the green dot and call defensive plays as a rookie. But he’s clearly a candidate already for that role. (And even if he doesn’t, it would likely be S Derwin James rather than another LB.)

Colson’s Immediate Outlook

The rookie’s expected to start next to Denzel Perryman, who has rarely stayed on the field full time. Perryman’s last four season playing-time rates:

  • 2020 Chargers: 38.0%
  • 2021 Raiders: 83.3%
  • 2022 Raiders: 70.2%
  • 2023 Texans: 72.5%

Colson looks like a good bet for full playing time right away.

What’s Not to Like?

The biggest question with Colson is just how good he’ll be.

He delivered merely decent production at Michigan. Colson led his final two Michigan defenses by 29 and 30 total tackles. He tallied 2.5 sacks, 5 passes defensed, and 8.5 tackles for loss across three seasons.

Colson skipped Combine testing before running a 4.77-second 40 time at his pro day. Even with no penalty added to the time for it being a pro day, his 91.9 speed score wouldn’t reach 30th percentile for the position.

Cooper Looks Like Bigger Talent

Cooper tested significantly better than Colson – and did his at the Combine …

 

He didn’t lead Texas A&M in tackles until his senior year – then by 10 total tackles – but Cooper supplied more big-play production.

His 17 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2023 capped off these career totals:

  • 30.5 TFLs
  • 8.5 sacks
  • 8 passes defensed
  • 3 forced fumbles
  • 2 fumble recoveries
  • 2 INTs

Cooper’s Immediate Outlook

The second-round pick – 24 spots ahead of Colson – is expected to start next to Quay Walker. Green Bay let De’Vondre Campbell walk this offseason.

Cooper doesn’t look like a candidate for the green dot. But both Walker and Campbell played near-full time when healthy last year.

Bottom Line

If I’m picking between them, I’m leaning toward Cooper. But I’m also OK with passing on both and waiting for the intriguing LB up next …


 

Payton Wilson, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

3D+ Value: 15.9

Wilson came off the board sixth among non-edge LBs in the draft. If that pushes him down the board in your rookie draft … take advantage.

His big issue is injury history. Wilson suffered two ACL tears that left him with no ACL in one of his knees.

(Tyjae Spears entered the league with the same issue. Former Steelers WR Hines Ward and LB Greg Lloyd played through such an issue as well.)

Wilson also has some lingering left-shoulder trouble following a reportedly lackluster repair. And he spent six years in college and turned 24 this May.

Given all that, the fact that Pittsburgh still drafted him in Round 3 looks positive.

Why You Should Like Wilson

The N.C. State alum won the 2023 Bednarik (nation’s top defensive player) and Butkus (top LB) awards. He twice ranked top 5 nationally in tackles, while racking up 48 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and 13 passes defensed for his career.

Wilson supported that with stellar speed testing (4.43-second 40 time) at 6’4 and 233 pounds.

In Pittsburgh, he’ll have a shot to reach the lineup this season next to free-agent signee Patrick Queen.

Wilson clearly trails Cooper and Colson in likelihood of starting right away – and he might not see a full-time role at any point this season. But he also probably sports the class’ highest ceiling.

Bottom Line

You can pass on the injury risk and odd profile if you’d like. I’m stashing this guy where possible, though, and willing to take on the risk in pursuit of Wilson’s high fantasy ceiling.


 

Laiatu Latu, Edge, Indianapolis Colts

3D+ Value: 5.1

Here’s where format really starts to matter.

The basic settings that control our site rankings favor LBs more than D-linemen and edge players, including a mere 3 points per sack vs. 1 point per solo tackle.

If your setup is similar, then feel free to prioritize LBs in your rookie draft.

But if your scoring leans more toward sacks, further pressure stats, or front-line players in any way, then these next three players should sit higher in your Draft War Room.

The Problem with Latu

Latu didn’t break out until his fourth year in college, but that wasn’t really his fault. He saw action as a true freshman but then suffered a neck injury ahead of his sophomore year. 

Even after surgery, Washington’s team doctors recommended he quit football – and Latu did.

But then he got other opinions, transferred to UCLA, and wrecked offenses over his final two seasons. We’ll get to those numbers in a minute. But the fact that Indianapolis took the 23-year-old first among edge players despite the neck history tells me we shouldn’t overrate it.

Latu’s Edge

Latu finished last season tied (with Jared Verse) for fifth among all FBS edge players in total pressures. He earned the nation’s top PFF pass-rushing grade at the position, along with winning the Hendricks Award (nation’s top DE) and Lombardi Award (top D-lineman).

In 2022, Latu tied Will Anderson Jr. for fourth-most pressures in FBS. (Anderson then went to the Texans as the third-overall pick.)

And Latu converted those pressure stats into 34.0 tackles for loss and 23.5 sacks over his two Bruins campaigns. He added 85 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, and even a pair of INTs.

Bottom Line

Latu might see limited playing time in 2024 with Kwity Paye, Samson Ebukam and Dayo Odeyingbo returning. But he looks well worth betting on long term. The more your format likes sacks (and other pressure stats), the more you should like Latu.


 

Dallas Turner, Edge, Minnesota Vikings

3D+ Value: 7.0

You might have noticed that Turner’s 3D+ Value is higher than that of the guy that precedes him in these ranks. Why?

I think Latu has the higher ceiling. I’ll be honest: I even messed with the controls behind the scenes on our dynasty rankings to try to get Latu ahead.

Check their dynasty projections, and you’ll see Latu ahead in the one-year and three-year numbers but Turner ahead beyond that.

Ultimately, though, I didn’t want to fight the math too much just to go along with my personal preference. I might be wrong. And perhaps the fact that Turner is two years younger matters more than I’m crediting.

Let’s look at his profile, and you can decide for yourself …

Where Turner Wins

Turner played right away at Alabama and spent three years producing.

He delivered 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks as a true freshman. He tallied 22.5 sacks among 32.5 tackles for loss over his three-year career. And he backed that production up with a 99th-percentile speed score at the Combine.

So why does he sit behind Verse and Latu on this list?

Reason for Hesitation

Turner posted strong sack numbers in college, but his overall pressure stats lagged until 2023.

Among Edges who got at least 200 pass-rushing opportunities, Turner tied for just 124th in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity in 2022. He did climb to 11th in 2023 but even then trailed these draft classmates:

  • Latu (second)
  • Mohamed Kamara (sixth)
  • Chris Braswell (T-seventh)
  • Verse (10th)

Turner will probably also need to bulk up at least some from his 247 pounds to maximize his NFL playing time.

Bottom Line

There’s plenty to like about Turner, but also enough questions to push him behind Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu at his position on my list. That said, there's nothing wrong with favoring Turner more than I do.


 

Chop Robinson, Edge, Miami Dolphins

3D+ Value: 0.0

Size concern is the first hangup for me with Robinson, who brings 22nd-percentile height, 27th-percentile weight and a 5th-percentile wingspan to the position.

His Mockdraftable spiderweb displays both why to be wary … and why to be intrigued.

Robinson’s 0.0 3D+ Value shows the gap between him and Latu/Turner.

Where’s the Production?

It would be easier to overlook the size concerns if Robinson were coming off big college numbers. But he totaled just 11.5 sacks and 20.0 tackles for loss across three Penn State seasons.

Robinson tied for a solid 16th in 2022 pass-rush productivity among Edges with 200+ chances. But then he didn’t even total enough pass rushes (across 10 games) to qualify for that group in his final season.

My biggest concern is that even if he proves good enough to contribute regularly in the pros, Robinson’s never more than a part-timer. He could be good for the Dolphins while also being bad for fantasy teams.

Bottom Line

I’m letting his first-round draft capital keep Robinson in this range, but he’ll have to fall in rookie drafts for me to consider him. I’d rather avoid the downside risk because the ceiling looks limited.


 

Bralen Trice, Edge, Atlanta Falcons

3D+ Value: -4.2

Like Robinson, Trice checks in very light and short-armed for the position.

 

He’s taller, at least, but also lingered on the board for another 53 picks (going 74th overall, in Round 3).

Trice Starts Slow, Finishes Strong

He redshirted as a freshman and then opted out of the 2020 COVID-altered season. That meant Trice’s first action didn’t come until his third year, followed by a breakout in his fourth.

He delivered 23.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks in 28 games over those final two seasons. Trice ranked seventh in pass-rush productivity in 2022 among 437 Edges with 200+ pass rushes. That dipped to a tie for 59th last year, though.

Trice then tested just OK at the Combine, including a 47th-percentile speed score. He added an unexciting 7.20-second 3-cone at his pro day.

Immediate Opportunity?

Despite lasting until Round 3, Trice landed well. He goes to an Atlanta defense badly in need of pass-rush help, with Arnold Ebiketie and Lorenzo Carter as the leading incumbents.

Carter has just 21.5 sacks through six pro seasons – including only seven across two years with the Falcons. Ebiketie tallied a decent 6 sacks last year but saw his playing time dip from 48.8% in 2022 to 33.7%

We’ll see how quickly Trice can climb that depth chart.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the opportunity boost the prospect too much. Trice is interesting but falls short of being exciting.


 

Braden Fiske, DL, Los Angeles Rams

3D+ Value: -10.4

Immediate opportunity should help this guy as well. Fiske landed 39th overall with a Rams team that’ll miss Aaron Donald for the first time since 2013.

No one can replace Donald, of course. But his departure leaves that spot open and Fiske looking like the top candidate to fill it.

And there are a couple of similarities to Donald …

Fiske Brings Explosiveness

Like Donald, Fiske measured undersized for a DT at the Combine. But also like Donald, Fiske delivered elite explosiveness in his testing.

 

Fiske played nearly all inside through five college seasons: four at Western Michigan and then one at Florida State.

His career-best stat season came in that final WMU campaign, when Fiske did get some more edge snaps:

  • 59 tackles
  • 12 tackles for loss
  • 6 sacks
  • 3 forced fumbles
  • 3 passes defensed

Bottom Line

There’s upside to Fiske, good draft capital, and immediate opportunity. He gains value if he qualifies at DT in your format.


 

Byron Murphy II, DT, Seattle Seahawks

3D+ Value: -10.8

Eight DTs went across the first two rounds of the draft, with this guy well ahead of the pack.

Seattle grabbed Murphy 16th overall, as just the second defensive player off the board (after Latu).

That draft capital alone signals the Seahawks expect him to contribute quickly. And Murphy sports upside after a breakout junior season.

Modest Numbers Mask Rush Potential

After totaling 6.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks over his first two seasons, Murphy delivered 8.5 and 5.0 as a Texas junior. Those numbers still won’t wow you, but they also don’t tell the whole story.

Murphy’s 45 total pressures ranked fifth among all interior D-linemen last year, according to PFF. He also led the entire group in pass-rush grade.

Seattle overlooked his diminutive size for the position to chase Murphy’s top-shelf explosiveness.

Bottom Line

If your league plays any DT-specific slots, then Murphy gets even more attractive. Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks limit his playing time early, though, as they install a new scheme and Murphy gets used to the pros.


 

Trevin Wallace, LB, Carolina Panthers

3D+ Value: -18.1

LB has changed quite a bit within NFL schemes in recent years, but it remains an important position in many IDP formats.

That makes this Day 2 pick worth a look amid an unexciting class overall.

Wallace went just three picks after Junior Colson and well ahead of Payton Wilson.

Let’s dig into where you should consider him …

Wallace Might Need Work

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler said of him before the draft: “Overall, Wallace has an attractive collection of traits for today’s NFL, however, the parts are better than the whole at this point and pro coaching will need to get him across the finish line. With more seasoning, he has the talent to compete for starting reps.”

Brugler specified that Wallace needs to work on his over-aggressiveness in run defense, where he can tend to overrun plays. And he said Wallace needs work on his awareness in coverage. But he also rated Wallace No. 3 among off-ball LBs -- which is exactly where he got drafted.

That followed a solid three years at Kentucky, where Wallace started for most of the final two. He posted modest tackle numbers but 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and 3 INTs for his career.

Testing, Landing Spot Help

Wallace isn’t big but has enough size for the position in today’s NFL. He delivered a 94th-percentile speed score at the Combine, along with explosive numbers in the jump testing.

 

That all speaks to his potential. And Carolina might be the perfect spot for him to sit a year.

Shaq Thompson heads into his age-30 season and the final year of his contract.

Josey Jewell just signed a three-year contract but turns 30 in December and has declining cap numbers (re: more cuttable) throughout the deal.

Bottom Line

Wallace might be more of a stash than the LBs that precede him on this list. But there’s upside if/when he does get a starting opportunity.


 

Who Should You Pick in Your IDP Rookie Draft?

Your top 12 probably won’t look just like this … and that’s a good thing.

No two dynasty leagues are exactly the same. So why should they follow the same set of rankings?

Sync your league to make sure your Dynasty Draft War Room fits your league.

This short video tells you how 3D Value+ will guide the whole system.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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